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1.

The “Unnamed Soundsculpture” piece is made by the studio Onformative, which is comprised of Cedric Kiefer and Julia Laub. The piece is a recording of a chorographic dance, represented as a set of data points reminiscent of sands, which freezes some motions of the dancer and then fall down with gravity as the dancer continues on forward. This represents a form of rebellion against modern technology to me, as the dancer is fighting against the ever falling data to express herself in an individualistic and powerful manner. In the end, the constant flow of information drags her down into nothingness, signifying the strength of technology upon our lives. Besides the implications this piece had on me, I was also deeply impressed by the technical details, as I have not thought of data visualization being able to be used in such a manner. My only problem with the piece is that it is a bit long; even 70% of the content would make me feel and think the same way. Similar data visualization technique is used in the music video of Radiohead’s “House of Cards”, but this piece is more active which I feel is superior.

 

2.

Genesis is a short film made by Andreas Wannerstedt. We enter a facility in the snow, where we are presented some advanced technologies, which then proceeds to create a mini big bang, producing a universe, and finally presenting us a mini planet. I initially thought not too hard about the meaning of the piece, for the only aspects which caught my attention were the technical details, but the true message is presented as a newspaper article in the end: “Create a mini world; become a mini God”. I have been struck by a theme I did not predict. The creation of a mini world and becoming a mini god is similar to the short film The Gloaming (Le Crépuscule) by Nobrain. However, The Gloaming is a critique on society while Genesis is a critique on technology.

 

3.

Metamorphosis generates the growth of branches and butterflies based on an algorithm written in Processing. The growth of the tree branches is absolutely gorgeous. It looks more organic than reality. The patterns generated by the algorithm are really well done. The color choices stick out also; the orange flame-like cloud behind the branches make stark and beautiful contrast. However, I feel the existence of the butterflies served no purpose. Because they lack animation (ex: wings flapping), they take away from the organic feeling the growing branches conveyed to me. Their movements are also erratic at times also, making me feel like they are just funky decorations. I feel if they flew out from the trees instead of being attached to them, I would be happier. The vector art style of the branches and their growth reminds me of the indie game Pixiejunk Eden, but the overall feeling is different as Metamorphosis is not a game and not interactive.

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Fluid Vase

In his generative art piece, Fluid Vase,, Fung Kwok Pan allows consumers to interact with a design interface to 3D Print a vase based on simulations of moving fluid. I love how each consumer can order an entirely different vase because they can select any frame they prefer. In addition, it elegantly captures movement in a stationary object. The possibilities of this concept could be pushed even further by capturing the complex movement of fabrics or sand, and be expanded into other enterprises besides vases. Pan definitely got the appeal of his product down because he has turned “action”–an abstract, indistinct concept–into a physical object. According to Kwok Pan, he was inspired greatly by the advantages of 3D Printing. I profoundly admire this about his project because he took the potential of this technology up a notch. Also, as I was investigating Kwok Pan’s previous projects, I realized this designer has very diverse types of interactive art. He has reaches in apps, installations, and product design, and I could not see a recurring theme in his projects. However, he has a distinct style that exudes confidence and a dynamic taste.

Pixelate

The most interesting interactive piece I stumbled upon was by Sures Kumar and Lana Z Porter. They created a Guitar Hero-inspired game called Pixelate, where two people must eat as much food as they can in the correct order within a minute. The correct foods are distinguished through sensors on the forks. I like how the piece takes a creative interactive approach through food. I don’t see that often. I also think the project has a great potential for nutrition education, as that was what originally compelled the artists to make this game. Unfortunately, I think the nature of food is what gets in the way of the installation as well. The installation would require a constant restocking of food. Also, I don’t think it’s too healthy to stand while eating or swallow without chewing. Compared to Kumar’s previous projects, he has definitely maintained his sleek designs and user-friendly interfaces. I think Pixelate, in particular, is most successful in influencing the realm of interactive art.

The Pool

In her installation, Pool, Jen Lewin compels groups of people to play around her arrangement of concentric circles that light up and interact with each step. The piece is inspiring for it becomes more vibrant as more people join in, reflecting how childish playfulness is fun with more people. Investigating further, I found the artist chose the design of concentric circles to reflect how people listen and interact with each other. The circular pads used for the piece, however, look like eyeballs or sunnyside up eggs. I think the artist had the right idea by asking viewers to interact in larger groups, but I think the design could be a little more elegant. Compared to her past installations, I believe the Pool is the most successful in integrating light and interaction. Her other pieces, such as The Paint Torch, are on a smaller scale and don’t require as much active involvement from the viewers. Overall I felt that if her installations were on a much grander scale and had more surprising elements, they would leave a stronger impression.

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1) Matt Pyke et al.: Communion

I’ve looked at this artist’s work as a whole and am impressed at how whimsical and lifelike his digital creatures are. The whole process in making the wondrous room is detailed here, but in summary, Communion is a “generative installation” in the walls of a room comprised of panels. Each panel contains a digital creature that evolves from simple structures to complex human-like organisms as they dance their way through development, as a “celebration of life.”

Just by making these creatures dance, the artist is able to make them become endearing and characterize them; the fact alone is astounding. I’m reminded of Thomas Was Alone, a game that only has rectangles as the characters, but by giving each of the rectangles a personality, suddenly the visuals become trivial and the jumping rectangles become personal to the player. Likewise, these creatures become “characters” and the audience becomes free to attach personalities to the creatures; they might even be named. And as if the dancing itself wasn’t dynamic enough, the creatures change–evolve–in front of the audience’s eyes. Although the creatures are confined to the boxes, they become part of the world by their dynamism. A recurring theme in Pyke’s works, after all, is applying human or animal tendencies to an object. According to an interview, he wants to make viewers empathize with technology, a vision of utopia.

It could have been even more effective (but of course more expensive) if each panel had a motion sensor that could allow the creature to react to the close presence of a viewer. It would create more personality for the creature, and allow for more active participation from the audience rather than the passivity I saw in most documentations. (This is the fullest documentation I could find of the piece without the audience)

2) Disney Research Hub: AIREAL 

This one surprised me because I didn’t know research in tactile interaction was going on, let alone significant progression in the field. Basically, the project, made by a small group of researchers, looks much like a webcam that follows your hands around as it shoots off air pressure at appropriate moments to create a sensation not unlike touching something out of thin air.  It is such a silly solution too–it looks hilariously primitive but effective at the same time. It does what it needs to do. Right now it doesn’t seem to be in the distributing stage, but its inspiration and motivation are mainly for games and interactive environments. When it is ready for distribution, I would like it to not be so obstructive in the interaction, however: it’s kind of obnoxious whenever it moves. Will there be a subtler way to push for tactile interaction, in free air?

3) loop.pH: SonUmbra

This project is beautiful, but highly disappointing. It is an audiovisual experience of standing under the umbrella structure, which takes in the surrounding noise and presence to react accordingly with patterns and lights. I was expecting to be mesmerized, and I was, really, but not as much as I wanted to be. I wanted the visual to react strongly to the biggest sounds, the sounds that stand out, but there were many moments (in multiple documentations found online) where I wasn’t even sure if the structure was reacting to the environment. The patterns are beautiful, yes; they look as if branches are growing in thin air. But it is supposed to be an audiovisual experience, and I only found the visual to be profound. Then again, maybe I will absolutely have to be under the umbrella to get the full effect, to understand the work.

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Light House from SOFTlab on Vimeo.

1. Light House is an interactive spatial environment in which a suspended form of tube light bulbs responds in real time to music. The work was made by SOFTLab, a design group out of New York, using Arduinos, custom hardware, and Processing to control the lights.

I found this work especially beautiful and admirable because it creates its own space of experience, deepening the viewer’s immersion within the work. Though I enjoy the simplicity of the piece, I think pushing the viewer’s emotional ties to the music with the color of the lights and varying the light intensity could strengthen the work.  The music is limiting and simple; adding a way to generate one’s own sounds or providing more abstracted noise would allow for greater conceptual connections.

After looking through SOFTLab’s previous pieces, this work seems like the logical progression of their ideas.  Many of their previous designs include the use of light and the engagement of the surrounding space, asserting the presence of the work over the space as opposed to incorporating the space into the work. This is evident in Global Concepts and in their design for the Beaux Arts Ball with the theme of Tender.

Timelapse of 3D Print Job – Listening to the Ocean on a Shore of Gypsum Sand from Phillip Stearns on Vimeo.

2. Listening to the Ocean on a Shore of Gypsum Sand is an interactive sculpture created by 3D printing mathematically generated patterns of seashells for the express purpose of using them to listen to the ocean. The work was a collaboration between Gene Kogan, Phillip Stearns, and Dan Tesene and used Processing and the Hemesh Library to make 3D models.

This work surprised me in its full exploration of the idea of work and futility. I expected the work to be more focused on the process of creating the shell, but the work extends much deeper. In my interpretation, these perfect mathematical objects are created in desire for a simple, childish moment. The objects could have been any mathematical shape, much more abstract, or finely attuned for harboring the ocean sound. Instead the objects yearn for the organic, relying on patterns of nature to achieve its goal. This is futile because either fabricated or real, the sound of the ocean is generated by the noise around the hollow object, not the object itself.

Gene Kogan has previously combined sound and 3D printing in Audio Sculptures, using sound as form in that instance. I feel that Listening to the Ocean on a Shore of Gypsum Sand is a progression of this content.

3. Aaron Koblin’s Flight Patterns is a data visualization of the frequency of flight paths in The United States. The work utilizes data from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration compiled with Processing and edited with Adobe After Effects and Maya.

Flight Patterns achieves its job on a literal level, but I feel it was a missed opportunity to make a statement. I find no significance in the colors used to indicate flight densities nor the simple lines tracking each flight. There is no way of telling a commercial flight from a military one. The information only shows flights landing and leaving the United States; there is no indication of the impact of American flights on other places, nor vice versa. There is no environmental data provided.

Some of these questions are addressed in other versions of Flight Patterns. One incarnation shows the paths of all of one model of airplane within the United States. This version does provide more interpretive data than the original.